Francis Ford Coppola! I am sure you have heard about this famous movie director. And otherwise I am sure you know one of his legendary movies, such as the Godfather and Apocalypse Now. But did you know Francis Ford Coppola owns beautiful lodges around the world, where you can actually stay and spend the night? In Belize, Argentina, Italy and Guatemala. During my research about Petén in Guatemala I came across a list of most beautiful jungle resorts in the world and there it was: La Lancha, by Francis Ford Coppola. When I sent an email and heard that there was availability, I couldn’t be happier. But if you are going to spend the night in a lodge by Coppola, expectations are high. In this article you’ll read more about my stay at La Lancha lodge in Guatemala.
Welcome at La Lancha, by Coppola in Guatemala
La Lancha (little boat) is a jungle paradise in the province of Petén, located in the rainforest on the Lago Petén Itzá. The second largest lake in Guatemala, surrounded by villages such as San Andrés, el Remate, San José and Flores. The area is world famous for its mysterious archaeological Maya sites (more than 27) of which Tikal is best known.
La Lancha has 10 lodges, which are connected to each other, the swimming pool, the pier and the restaurant, by nicely landscaped paths. The area is truly beautiful. You are surrounded by greenery, flowers, butterflies, different species of birds (my favorite hummingbird), howler and spider monkeys. You can look at it for hours and take pictures!
The jungle lodges
La Lancha Guatemala is a small resort, with 2 lake view suites, (the largest rooms with an extra large terrace) 2 jungle suites with a small seating area and 4 jungle rooms. The lodges are almost invisible from the water. They are hidden in the rainforest, which makes you feel like having the jungle all to yourself.
The rooms have high ceilings and are stylishly decorated with materials, coming from Guatemala. All designed by the Coppola family! Luxurious dark wood is used for the interior of the lodge and ceremonial masks and amazing embroidered huipiles (ponchos) are used to design the walls. On the terrace there are chairs with colored cushions and most rooms have a hammock, in typical Guatemalan patterns! I stayed in the Lake Suite myself and I loved it. It is a large lodge with two bedrooms, double bathrooms and a nice seating area!
In the evening the whole complex is decorated with lights. There is a special evening service where candles are placed on your terrace and your bed is made ready for the night.
What to do at La Lancha lodge Guatemala?
Of course you want to explore the Petén area but spending some time at La Lancha resort is definitely something I recommend, as it’s the perfect place to relax, swim and enjoy the surroundings.
Walk towards the Mirador and enjoy a sunset
From the reception you walk within 5 minutes to the Mirador, a viewpoint that belongs to La Lancha lodge, with a great view of Lago Peten Itza Guatemala. There are lounge beds and a seating area with nice coffee table books. It is the best place to enjoy an amazing sunset on a clear day. It is also possible to have lunch or dinner here on request.
Walk to the pier for a swim in the lake or go on a kayak tour
All the way down the hill, at the water, you will find a pier with sunbeds and chairs. If the weather is nice you can take a dip in the lake from here. According to locals, the water has magical powers, because of the energy you experience after a dive. It is worth to give it a try! You can also use one of the kayaks for free and go for a tour on the lake.
Relax at the pool
If I have to believe the rumors, celebrities like Penelope Cruz and Charlize Therone already have been seen around the swimming pool of La Lancha Guatemala. I don’t know whether it is true, but it doesn’t matter. It is just a wonderful place to relax.
Experience a traditional temazcal – an ancient Maya sauna
When you are in Guatemala (or Mexico) you have to experience a temazcal. A temazcal is a small round house made of volcanic rock and adobe. The Maya used this sweathouse as a ceremonial cleansing of the body, for example after a battle or a ball game. Sick people, elderly people and pregnant women could also strengthen and recover here. Volcanic rocks are used to heat the temazcal and different indigenous herbs are used as aromatics. The temazcal at La Lancha is decorated with rose petals and lights. A wonderfully romantic experience!
Enjoy a diner at the restaurant
The restaurant is located at the top of the hill and has a nice view of the lake and the tropical jungle. Butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds fly all around you. I think I have seen more than 10 species of birds during my stay. The furnishings with tables and chairs are simple, but here too you will find many decorations such as masks, flowers and traditional statues displayed in canoes.
The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Prices are on the high side for Guatemala (between 20 and 30 dollars for an evening meal) but you will get fresh food and good service in return. With every dinner you get a small starter on the house. Think of a tortilla topped with bell pepper, beet, carrot, coriander and other spices. I was happy with the many fish and vegetarian options, such as fresh fish from the grill (of course coming from the lake) with grilled vegetables, a stuffed eggplant or vegetables in coconut milk.
At La Lancha you can fully enjoy the by Coppola wine collection. The menu is extensive, but because each bottle has a description, there is certainly something special in between. The Chardonnay is highly recommended! Be prepared to pay for quality, a glass costs USD 9 and a bottle around USD 48.
Most reservations include breakfast wich is nice. Breakfast includes a continental breakfast, where in addition to bread, jam, coffee / tea, homemade granola, yogurt and eggs, you’ll get something sweet from the house such as banana bread or sweet corn muffins.
La Lancha, by Coppola lodge is on my list of favorite hotels in Guatemala. Read more about the most beautiful and unique hotels in Guatemala in the next article.
What to do around La Lancha lodge Guatemala?
Visit Ancient Maya cities
La Lancha is a perfect starting point for a trip to the former Maya city of Tikal. But you can also organize other activities such as horseback riding or trips to Maya cities such as Yaxhá, Uaxactún, El Ceibal, Aquateca and Dos Pilas. In Summer it is also possible to take a helicopter tour to El Mirador (keep in mind that it costs a few hundred dollars per person, regardless of where you book it). All trips can be done in one day, so you still have plenty of time to enjoy La Lancha.
A visit to Tikal National Park is an unforgettable experience where you will learn more about the fascinating Maya history and enjoy the beautiful jungle environment around you with countless monkeys, coatis, butterflies and species of birds. Read more about a trip to Tikal, including the highlights, and lots of useful tips.
Enjoy a boat trip to Flores
From La Lancha you can take a private boat trip to Flores, where you’ll be navigating the Peten Itza lake, past villages such as San José and San Andrés. When you arrive at Flores, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the town. Flores is a small village/island connected to the mainland by a bridge. It used to be an old maya city, called Tayasal but was destroyed by the Spaniards. Nowadays you will find many colorful houses, little souvenirshops and many nice rooftop restaurants with a great view over the lake. On weekends there are markets stalls and live music performances along the boulevard. Flores is really worth a visit and spend some hours. You can book a tour from La Lancha. In addition, Flores is a popular place for a trip to Tikal, due to its tourist facilities and convenient location to the airport.
Guatemala is one of my favorite countries in Central America. Do you want to know more about this beautiful country? Check out my travel guide with the best things to do in Guatemala, tips for off the beaten track destinations, gastronomic and cultural experiences.
How long do you want to stay at La Lancha resort?
If you plan to visit Tikal from La Lancha I would recommend staying at least three nights. This way you can spend one day exploring Tikal and take the other day to enjoy La Lancha. If you have less time, two nights are also fine, but make sure you arrive on time on the day of arrival. After my visit to Tikal, I chose to stay another three nights at La Lancha to visit the archaeological site of Yaxhá as well.
Information and costs
The costs for a stay at La Lancha resort, per night vary between EUR 150 and EUR 350, depending on the type of room. Breakfast is included in most cases. On the Coppola Hideaways website you will find more information about La Lancha and the other beautiful resorts in Belize, Argentina and Italy.
Check the availability and rates of La Lancha resort in Guatemala here.
How do you reach La Lancha, by Coppola?
You can reach La Lancha by boat or by road. It is approximately 1 hour by road from the border with Belize. From Guatemala City it is a 40-minute flight to Flores airport, from where you can drive to La Lancha in an hour. Tikal is also about 1 hour drive from La Lancha. The nearest town is El Remate.
The Jungle cable car
Because the lodges are located on the mountain hill, La Lancha created a special jungle cable car brining you up the mountain from the pier. So if you don’t feel like walking, this is for you.
I love staying in smaller scale hotels, in a beautiful setting with nice interiors, good service and a lovely atmosphere. And La Lancha has it all. And yes, for Guatemala prices are higher but there is so much eye for detail and service that you will absolutely have an amazing experience!
More about Guatemala
Do you want to read more about this amazing country? In this article you’ll find the 20 best things to do in Guatemala, including off the beaten path destinations, best time to travel, different travel itineraries and information about safety. Have a look in the Guatemala archive for a city guide about Antigua with 20 things to do, a travel guide for Lake Atitlan, Lanquin, the famous market of Chichicastenango, a boat trip on the Rio Dulce to Caribbean Livingston annd a Guatemala hotel guide. Interested in archaeology? In this article I’m taking you to the Maya ruins of Tikal and Quiriguá, a smaller and less visited Maya site with beautiful Maya stelae.